'Where flowers bloom so does hope.' - Ladybird Johnson
I remember, as a child, being sent out into the garden to find a flower or two for our kitchen table. We had a large garden and there was usually an hibiscus, perhaps some frangipani or, even better, a rose. The flowers generally needed replacing every couple of days since neither frangipani nor hibiscus are long-living. But I loved to search for a bright blossoms.
It added such a cheerful accent to the kitchen table. The whole day seemed brighter.
Brighten your home and create a positive mood at the same time
One of the easiest ways to brighten up your home is by decorating with flowers. If you have a garden, then you might consider planting flowers that you can cut and bring indoors. By planting flowers that bloom all season long you can easily decorate with them until the cold hits in autumn.
Not only do flowers look bright and cheerful, they have been found to have a positive effect on people's moods. One study (Rutgers, University of New Jersey) found that flowers produce both an immediate and long term uplift in mood- happiness, less depression, higher sense of life satisfaction.
Further studies found that those who dined at restaurants where fresh flowers decorated the tables seemed in better moods. An increase in cognitive performance has been observed in offices with flowers and plants. The bright blooms seem to chase away anxieties and the blues.
Another behavioral research study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, found that... 'the morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon'. The study also found that those who began their day with positive moods – happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example – continued to be cheerful and positive through most of the day. Etcoff adds, “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”
What better way, then, to introduce a quality, cheerful tone and ambiance to your homelife than with a simple bouquet of flowers. Here's how.....
Flower arrangement tips and ideas for beginners
*Before you begin, trim on the diagonal the stems of your flowers before arranging them. It will allow the flowers to drink up plenty of water. (If your roses are a bit limp, trim the stems and plunge into a deep bucket of water up to their heads and even over. Some flowers, like roses, will absorb water through their petals.)
*Remove any leaves that will be below the water line. This will prevent the leaves rotting.
*If you're using flowers with long stems in a tall vase, ensure that the container has a heavy base. (You don't want it toppling over.) The finished height of the arrangement should be roughly 1 1/2 times the height of the container.
*As a rule of thumb, use an odd number of main flowers in your arrangement.. it's not so important for smaller, filler flowers. This will result in an arrangement that looks balanced, more appealing to the eye.
*And your flower arrangements don't have to be huge. A lovely bowl of flowers can be just as pleasing as a large vase arrangement.
*Don't cut your stems of flowers and foliage too long. Consider the height of your arrangement.
*Yes, foliage is important. But you can use what you find in your garden. Begin with small leaved greenery until you become more confident. Simple asparagus fern, spinning gum or callistemon work well and even herbs like rosemary would be fine.
*Use the containers you already own.. you can create some truly beautiful arrangements in a teacup.
Small bowls work well as do teapots, jugs, small watering cans or even large shells.
If you're using a container with not much height, it will probably be best to use some florist foam (Oasis.) Just cut off a piece to fit your container, soak for about 15 minutes. Then push it firmly into your container. Arrange your flowers by pushing them firmly into the florist foam. You will find that you can cut the stems of your flowers and foliage a little shorter when using the foam since you push the stems roughly halfway into the foam to secure in place.
Use flowers from your garden
Decorating with flowers doesn’t have to be expensive. Try looking around your garden and use what you see growing. You don't need a lot of flowers to make a beautiful home accent. For example, do you grow agapanthus? Pick one stem and add it to a container so that the bloom forms a dome at the top of your container. Now, pop some foliage stems and a couple of other flowers between the agapanthus flowerlets and you're done.. easy.
Begin now and plant some flowers that you can use later in your home arrangements. Download the FREE guide to easy to grow and easy to use flowers for arrangements.
why not try to involve your kids and encourage them to help out in your flower garden? They'll love to water the growing plants and pick the flowers as they bloom. You can even grow flowers that kids can eat. Make smoothies for your kids and they can sprinkle the top with nuts, seeds, muesli and ..... petals. (Violas, nasturtium, calendula and rose petals to name just a few..)
Don't forget to add some foliage
To add some flare to your floral arrangements don’t forget to use some of the leaves that grow with your flowers.
Hosta leaves help add a wonderful touch of green to indoor flower arrangements too. You probably have a variety of grasses growing in your garden and these can be used to make your dinner settings stand out. Simply use a grass such as maiden grass of about 20cm long and tie around your cutlery and fasten with a knot. To add color to your setting pick a small handful of pansies or daises and tie them into a bouquet as well.
Maiden grass dries extremely well and will keep for up to one year so you can easily reuse them over and over again. If you find the grass is getting a little brittle then spray very lightly with a little hair gel. Works wonderfully!
Creating Bouquet Arrangements
Top floral designers are experimenting with creating tiered bouquets for the home and you can easily accomplish this, too.
All you need for your tiered bouquet are two glass bowls which can be stacked on top of each other.
Then simply fill with a mixture of small and large seasonal flowers. For example, in the spring you can mix pansies and nemesia or forget-me-nots and use larger flowers such as columbine and violas. In the sample one above, I used button chrysanthemums and baby's breath.
First start by stacking your pedestal bowl on top of the larger one and then add water to both bowls. Use smaller blossoms for the base of the bowls and press the stems into the water. Then take your larger blossoms and cut the stems so they fit inside the bowl, simply insert these blossoms throughout your flower bouquet.
If you don’t have a pedestal-type bowl you can use small individual glass bowls and place them around your home. If you are having dinner guests, you could place small flower arrangements at their place setting.
Other simple ideas
Peonies, hibiscus or frangipani look wonderful floating in a small bowl of water. To keep the peony above the water, place a small ball of bubble wrap underneath it for support. Use grasses or leaves to add a touch of green to the bowl.
Check out some of the other simple floral arrangement ideas below.
'Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers.
Download this FREE guide to find easy-to-grow flowers for your own garden and easy-to-arrange flowers and start creating a cheerful, warm home atmosphere.
I remember Christmas when I was young.
There was so much cleaning, preparation and cooking, and cooking... and more cooking! We were all involved in some way whether it was cutting up the dried fruit, stirring the Christmas cake or pudding mixture or rolling out the sweet pastry for the tarts and fruit mince pies.
And afterwards, somehow or other, we all managed to scamper outside clutching tasty bits of pastry, fruit, biscuit or cake mix.
I loved watching the batches of beautiful Christmas cookies (we call them biscuits in Australia) cooling on trays before being stored in large glass jars or packed between layers of greaseproof paper in shiny, bright tins as gifts.
There were Snickerdoodles, Peppermint Chocolate Slice, Shortbreads, Meringue Kisses, Iced Vo-vos, Melting Moments and Florentines.
And although I'd love to recreate similar memories today for my children and grandkids- the same delicious smells and mouth-watering flavours- I just don't have time.
But maybe, I can create memories that are every bit as sweet for my grandkids without spending hours in the kitchen. And you can, too.
So here's my simple version of Christmas cookies that will take less than 15 minutes to make. And... if my grandson is anything to go by, you'll have them coming back for more.
Here's what you'll need:
* 1 cup of chocolate melts (Use natural chocolate melts if you're looking for a healthy alternative and there are even gluten-free versions.)
* 1 pack of mini salted pretzels (You won't need to use all of the pretzels.)
* 1 pack of mini gingerbread men (If you need a healthier alternative, there is a brand made with wholegrains and sweetened with grape juice rather than sugar.)
* 1 pack of shredded coconut (Again, you won't need the whole pack.)
* ! pack of Christmas M&Ms- the ones with green and red M&Ms
You'll also need a biscuit tray lined with baking paper.
1. Melt the chocolate. (I just popped a microwave-safe bowl with the melts in the microwave 30-40 sec but you may prefer to melt it gently by standing the container of melts over a bowl of hot water and stirring until melted.)
2. Make small circles of chocolate on the tray of baking paper using teaspoonfuls of melted chocolate.
3. Gently push a couple of pretzels, a gingerbread man and a few M&Ms in each chocolate circle.
4. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.
5. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.
6. Gently remove from the tray and arrange on small Christmas plates or platters.
And that's it! Easy! In fact, your kids or grandkids would probably like to help you make these. So go ahead and enjoy some family fun and make some wonderful Christmas memories.
'Life is short. Time is fast. No replay. No rewind. So enjoy every moment as it comes.'
Last week, I helped my daughter and their little ones move house. Her husband had gone ahead with the removalist and we followed more slowly, with many stops for small boys and a feeding baby.
Let me tell you... 2 days of travel in a car with 2 toddlers and a baby is a long time. I lost count of the number of times we sang the Veggie Tales theme song, watched Lightning McQueen, and played I Spy.
It was tiring. It was mind-numbing, checking Google maps for the next McDonald's stop or rest area along the highway. But it was also fun! And I learned a huge amount.
I learned how calm my daughter is despite tiredness and the stress of a toddler who refuses to use any unfamiliar toilet. I learned how easily small boys can get stuck inside playground tube-slides. (Believe me, there's no way you can clamber around in those things with dignity!)
I learned how cute a toddler can look falling asleep in the car with his sunglasses hanging from his ear.
And, I learned again that suffocatingly tender feeling when a fretful baby you`re cuddling looks up at you, with tears running down his cheeks, recognises you and smiles a big, delighted grin.
Yep... I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
But... in the busyness of life, it's so easy to forget.
As soon as we arrived, we were flat-out unpacking, feeding tired and hungry children, finding bedding and making up beds.
But once the shadows lengthened and the softness of evening curled into the corners of the rooms, I pulled out my gratitude journal, Simply Grateful.
I wanted to record and remember every moment of our eventful trip. And, I wanted to relax a little and unwind with the colouring pages included in the book.
It's so easy to find yourself caught up with the busyness and notice little more than life and time passing. And yet life is filled with 'moments that matter' that will pass unnoticed if you don't make room for them.... and don't journal about them.
So... it's important to take a bit of time, before the day closes, to remember and record those moments.
There are so many benefits of taking time to journal, of maintaining a gratitude journal... better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, increased happiness. But it's also an amazing way to remember those moments that matter. And... it's the greatest way to share with your family and leave a legacy of special family memories.
If you haven't used a gratitude journal before, the Simply Grateful- a creative journal is the easiest way to start. It encourages you with prompts, questions and suggestions to reflect on the many ways that you have been blessed. You'll find places to record lists or add notes. And, there are reflective style questions.
If you've completed a gratitude journal before, you'll find even more in the Simply Grateful journal. Each page is different with different ideas and moments to reflect on and record. You'll find spots to doodle and draw if you feel creative. And there are some colouring pages and quotes if you need to relax and de-stress. Check it out!
A moment..... will you capture it or let it slip by?
FIND IT HERE......
Date days and date nights. There important. Not just for you and your significant other. But also for catching up with family and friends. As a grandmother, I love nothing more than the chance for quality time with my husband, my children, and my friends. Just as much as my children and their partners need time away from their parental duties to reconnect with one another. But I think a great way to enjoy those dates is to do something involving food. It’s a sociable thing to do, and enjoyable to. Which is why I thought I would share with you some of the foodie dates you could enjoy with anyone. I hope it inspires you to get some dates booked in your diary.
An evening date night
The standard date would take place at night. Most commonly with your significant other. It’s a great way to reconnect with one another. Catch up on what is going on with work, or your children. To remember what it’s like to be you as an individual instead of mom and dad. Sometimes it’s great to head to your local restaurant. Or consider something more specialist and unique like the friday night dinner event. Whatever you decide to do, an evening out enjoying good food will always be a winning combination.
An afternoon tea
If you want to enjoy some great foodie options in a more laidback way, then consider a civilised afternoon tea. There is nothing quite like enjoying a nice cup of tea while eating sumptuous cakes and savoury treats. Some establishments work so hard on those intricate petit fours, sandwiches, and cakes. They can look too good to eat. It’s a great alternative way of spending some time together, whether friends or family and enjoy eating some good food.
Cooking up a special recipe
Sometimes you can’t beat the feeling of satisfaction when you cook up a special recipe from scratch. This is where dates take place at home. You could cook this up for friends, family or just you and your partner. It is special to cook something and serve it to the ones you love.
A taster menu
Often, some of those fancy restaurants will offer up taster menus. This is where you can indulge in four, five or more courses. They tend to be small, so you don’t have to worry about overfacing yourself. But it can make the whole day or evening centred around food and drink choices. For the foodie, this option is possibly one of the most enjoyable. Potentially giving you the chance to try new and exciting ingredients.
A food festival
Finally, what better way to enjoy food that at a festival all about it. These tend to be great fun. Full of stands and food choices as far as the eye can see. It can be an excellent day or night for a date with friends. A relaxed affair while eating freshly cooked food.
I hope this has inspired you to consider some alternative ways to spend time with loved ones.
"Never let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big."
Do you ever wonder about your life- your purpose, your passion, your influence?
I do. in fact, it's the reason my blog exists. Let me explain a little.
Our culture elevates success and influence and paints a bright picture of the accomplished, purposeful woman. It paints in broad strokes a young, attractive woman who easily and efficiently balances both professional and family life.
Do you fit the image? I certainly don't! Success is something that I've rarely thought about much less pursued and life balance continues to elude me. And, with a cheerful bevy of grandkids, I can't be described as young, though I struggle to accept it.
Life is the sum of your choices
My life choices have been simple: a teaching career, tutoring, marriage and family, children and homeschooling, a small business and family ministry. My life has been a whirl of activities, busyness, learning and growing, and building fun memories.
But my children are now grown and I have 8 wonderful grandkids. I have retired from teaching to care for my disabled husband who has struggled for many years with Parkinson's Disease.
Society's standards would judge that the best of my life is behind me. But I disagree... strenuously.
I don't believe my life's purpose and direction has ended, or indeed anyone else's in similar circumstances.
I also believe this is our challenge today. Attitudes need to change. Society should be flexible enough to allow women like us to redefine success, influence and purpose.
And... I believe that thousands of women like me are looking ahead to the second half of life and questioning, 'What's ahead? What's to come?'
When you consider my age and life experiences, the accumulation of knowledge and understanding through living, learning and growing, I believe that my best is yet to come.
The same holds true for you, too. Your best can still be yet to come.
So... this is my biggest challenge. Rather than accepting that my life is over, I want to take it to the next level- reinvent myself. I'm developing this blog and discovering new and exciting ways to share ideas, fun and small moments that are filled with enormous potential for building lasting influence and creating an enduring legacy.
What's next for me? What am I planning to do?
Well, to start with, I'm learning new skills for this blog to help me share more effectively with you; skills like photography, graphics, and creating visual online presentations. I'm working to develop a series of simple courses for anyone to access- Simple Skill Builders and there are more ideas on the planning board. And, just as importantly I think, I'm enjoying it.
I'm also enjoying sharing and connecting with you here and on social media- another learning curve.
So, what's next for you?
Remember: what you do today can alter and improve all your tomorrows.
So, dream big... and then take the first step.
If you'd like to gain some understanding of your core values to help your future direction and purpose, then check out this online assessment.
And I have some more helpful tools to share with you soon.
Please, check back here often as I regularly share more ideas and inspiration for you and your family. And, you can be the first to hear about the latest ideas through my regular email updates. Plus.. you'll receive my FREE Smoothie recipe book.
It can be hard to decide how to entertain the kids for a couple of hours when you are babysitting. They can get bored easily, so you need to think of something fun. Baking cakes is a fantastic way to keep them occupied while they are at your home. Here is everything you need when you are baking cakes with the grandchildren so it all goes smoothly!
Plenty of ingredients
You need to purchase plenty of ingredients when you are baking cakes with the grandchildren. It will ensure they get a chance to make a few cakes. Also, if the first load go wrong, then you have the ingredients to make more. Also, having plenty of ingredients means you get to experiment with different flavors. You might want to make a chocolate cake, and then make a carrot cake for a healthier option. You should talk to them before you go to the store about different ideas they will love to make. Here are some fun cake ideas you could bake with the grandkids!
Some good aprons
Another thing you need when you are baking cakes with the grandchildren is some good aprons. The kids are bound to be messy while they are making the cakes. The flour will go everywhere, and they could easily get it down their clothes. You don’t want to send them home covered in ingredients. Therefore, buy them some aprons which they can use to protect their clothes while baking.
A washable table cloth for the table
You also need to put a cloth on the table when you are baking cakes with the grandchildren. Unless you want to spend hours cleaning after, you will need to protect the table before you start. After all, they will be mixing and decorating the cakes on there, so there is bound to be some spills. You should get a washable tablecloth which you can easily wipe after.
A great mixer
You also need to get a great mixer when you are baking with the kids. You want this part to go as quickly as possible as kids can easily get bored. To make it easy, you could get an electric hand mixer which you can just hold to make the mixture smooth. You can even make the process quicker by getting a stand mixer. That way, you won’t have to do any mixing yourself. You can look online to find the 10 best kitchen stand mixers.
A decent baking tray
Another thing you need when you are baking cakes with the grandchildren is a good baking sized tray to put the cakes on. If you are making cupcakes, you could get a cupcake baking tray which will help them make accurate shaped cupcakes. It makes it easier for them to understand where it needs to go when pouring the mixture in. Make sure you grease the baking tray first so that you can remove the cakes quickly.
And if you think the baking day is going to be stressful, you could just skip to the end, and all just decorate cupcakes! You can buy some ready-make, or bake some before they come, then they can just enjoy decorating them!
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.